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Can the United Nations successfully facilitate nuclear disarmament? That goal is the mandate of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), a department tasked with supporting governments in disarmament and non-proliferation across a varied and complex foreign policy landscape. While the 2017 adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons marked a significant victory for multilateralism, the challenges of advancing disarmament are vast. The success of bilateral arms control agreements, such as New START between the United States and Russia, are in jeopardy. Other countries are seeking to further develop or modernize their nuclear arsenals. The world needs multilateral institutions to reduce the possibility of nuclear cataclysm, and UNODA does so by supporting dialogue and strengthening global norms against the use, possession, and testing of nuclear weapons with the ultimate goal of their elimination.
Given the tensions of today, where will UNODA find the support it needs to guide countries away from the development and modernization of their nuclear arsenals? Can it lean on nuclear-armed states, like the United States, to improve global nuclear norms? What power might non-nuclear states wield to press for nuclear disarmament?
Join Perry World House for its 2023 Global Order Colloquium on A New Age of Nuclearity? Great Powers and Greater Consequences, during which Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Izumi Nakamitsu will address these questions and discuss how her office navigates and approaches disarmament issues across the UN system.
Izumi Nakamitsu assumed her position as Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs on 1 May 2017. Prior to taking on this post, Ms. Nakamitsu served as Assistant Administrator of the Crisis Response Unit at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) since 2014. She has many years of experience within and outside the United Nations system, most recently as Special Adviser Ad Interim on Follow-up to the Summit on Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants between 2016 and 2017. She was previously Director of the Asia and the Middle East Division of the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations between 2012 and 2014, and Director of the Department’s Division of Policy, Evaluation and Training, from 2008 to 2012.
Adam Taylor writes about foreign affairs for The Washington Post. He is based in Washington, D.C., but travels frequently to report, most recently to Ukraine to focus on Kyiv’s counteroffensive and the high costs of rebuilding the country. Originally from London, he studied at the University of Manchester and Columbia University.